The Very Best of Soft Cell (2002).
When Soft Cell were big, I was a young squaddie in Germany; new romance, floppy hairstyles and flamboyant clothes were not really de rigueur for young soldiers. However, I remember buying Non Stop Erotic Cabaret in 1982 and in essence, this is pretty much a re release of that album.
In fact, if you have Non Stop Erotic Cabaret I would not bother getting this, however, as I no longer have my original, vinyl album, I bought this version on iTunes, it does have a couple more tracks than Non Stop Erotic Cabaret, so why not.
Marc Almond and David Ball were the front of the group, with Almond being primarily the vocalist and Ball being the synthesizer guru.
There is no doubt that Soft Cell's sound and lyrics are unique; they have a very seedy side to them which I think is quite delicious. I will not review every track as believe me, it would be one of the longest reviews in Dooyoo history. I will highlight a couple of tracks, though let me say from the outset, this is a very, very good album and there are no 'god awful' tracks if listened to in the context of the time they were released. Though, being honest, the last two tracks are surplus to requirements in my opinion, I am not a great 'remix' fan.
Almond has gone on to become a successful, serious singer with track 7, 'Torch' being quite prophetic as he is a lover and singer of 'Torch songs', a kind of angsty/romance/jazz song....think Edith Piaf, Dusty Springfield...in fact I cannot think of another male that sings torch songs.
On to a brief review of some of the tracks:
It is the 2nd track on the album 'Tainted Love' which became their biggest seller and whilst it is glorious and triumphant in its rendition here, it is, unfortunately not the longer version often heard in clubs that I love so much.
This song is synonymous with the electronic dance movement of the time and loses no appeal nearly 30 years on, superb, fantastic; that ping, ping of the intro is iconic and repeated throughout. Interestingly this, as a few others on the album is a cover that has its roots in Motown and Northern Soul, yet are very far removed. This song has had a fair few covers in its time since this release too, notably Marylyn Manson who took the darkness that is subtle in Soft Cell's version to new heights.
Track 5, 'Say Hello, Wave Goodbye' is my all time favourite Soft Cell song. This is a song that tells a story of mismatched lovers against a background of electronic synthesizers punctuating the verses at seemingly inappropriate moments. I mentioned earlier the fact that Almond sings 'Torch Songs', this is probably the closest song to a Torch song on the album, yet is completely, musically, removed from that. It is the lyrics, that are angst ridden, dark, seedy that make this song; that and the way he sings (and talks) in a totally believable way. Along with 'I want you' by Elvis Costello, this remains one of my two favourite 'shut the door and feel depressed' songs. Brilliance and that one note he holds near the end is pretty damn good for anyone, let alone an asthmatic.
"You're used to wearing less, and now you're life's a mess, so insecure you see.......I've put up with all the scenes and this is one scene that's going to be played my way.......Take your hands of me, I don't belong to you, you see.....take a look at my face for the last time, I never knew you, you never knew me......"
It is quite bizarre to see the 80's making a comeback at the moment on the music scene, and what was once trashy being lauded now. I guess that is the point, it was trashy, and no group, in my opinion actually did trashy and seedy like Soft Cell. I mean, come on, 'Sex Dwarf' for goodness sake...brilliant.
If you have or are getting an 80's collection together this is essential listening, full stop, a secret pleasure to be listened to with someone else from that era; have a party, put the lava lamp on (or a red light), eat cheese and pineapple off of sticks and drink Harvey Wallbangers whilst wearing a frilly shirt....come on, you know you want to!
~~~Full Track Listing~~~
2. Tainted Love
3. Where Did Our Love Go?
5. Say Hello, Wave Goodbye
6. Sex Dwarf
8. Insecure Me
10. Where the Heart Is
11. It's a Mugs Game
13. Loving You Hating Me
14. Soul Inside
15. Down in the Subway
16. Somebody, Somewhere, Sometime
17. Divided Soul
18. Tainted Love (2XS Remix)
19. Say Hello, Wave Goodbye
Disc #1 Tracklisting
2 Tainted Love
3 Where Did Our Love Go?
5 Say Hello, Wave Goodbye
6 Sex Dwarf
8 Insecure Me
10 Where The Heart Is
11 It's A Mugs Game
13 Loving You Hating Me
14 Soul Inside
15 Down In The Subway
16 Somebody, Somewhere, Sometime
17 Divided Soul
18 Tainted Love
19 Say Hello Wave Goodbye